Training for Touring

In our last article on bicycling, we left off with a crash and subsequent recovery downtime.  Since June, we have been fairly actively training for our upcoming September self-supported tour, having accumulated a total of 550 miles of riding, mostly on rail-trails, which are much more pleasant than riding with traffic on the highways.  The rail-trails also have less dramatic grades than the–as one of our Warm Showers guests commented– “comically steep” hill on which our house sits, so we have avoided riding from home.

Again, we have made use of our new (this season) GoPro3 camera, which is usually mounted on the front accessory mount, and, when we have towed it, on the rear of the trailer.  As with any skill, the editing is getting better, though the sequences are often much too long, judging from other more professional videos on the web.

Riding the Chehalis-Western Trail from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

One of our favorite rides is the Chehalis-Western Trail, particularly the southern segment between the junction with the Olympia-Woodland Trail and the Yelm-Tenino Trail. The above was early June, when the scotch broom was in full bloom.

Yelm-Tenino Trail from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

We also ride the Yelm-Tenino Trail: sometimes to Rainier, where there is a great drive-in coffee and pizza shop where they roast their own coffee; it is right on the trail, and sometimes on to Yelm, the eastern terminus of the trail.

Trucks – Porter to Elma Ride from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

For a change, to get used to riding on the roads, and to check out the segment of the Adventure Cycling Pacific Coast Trail south from Elma, we drove to Elma and rode south. It was a rainy day, so we only rode as far as Porter and back. We discovered the road, which promised to be a quiet, scenic ride on the opposite side of the Chehalis River from U.S. Highway 12, was also heavily used by tandem gravel trucks and logging trucks. The version above has the native sound track for full effect of passing trucks.

Tenino from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

Back on the trails, we headed to Tenino, on the western half of the Yelm-Tenino trail, to check out the Saturday Market at Tenino. On the way back, we were entertained by a full simulated battle at the Society for Creative Anachronism’s encampment at the Equestrian Center, through which the C-W trail passes.

WhitehornPoint from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

In mid-June, we attended the Association of Northwest Weaving Guilds’ conference in Bellingham. We arrived early and stayed in Birch Bay, 40Km north of Bellingham, where we enjoyed some rides around the bay and up the headlands on either side.

RidetheRain from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

Some rain can’t be avoided. This was a relatively short ride during the conference, and on a day when vacationer traffic picked up quite a bit.

semiahmoo from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

Our first day out on Birch Bay, we traveled north to Semiahmoo Point, rewarded by a very fast steep downhill. In an attempt to avoid the slow, steep uphill, we continued along the beach to the east, only to find the trail ended below a housing area. Pushing/lifting the bike up between the houses, we found ourselves in a gated community and had to lift/carry the bike around the landscaping to bypass the gate.

Foothills Trail from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

Our next rail-trail outing was to Puyallup, to ride the Foothills Trail, 15 miles up the Carbon River and South Prairie Creek. On clear days, Mount Rainier dominates the view ahead on the first half of the trail to Orting, but clear days also cause the mountain to generate its own weather, so we only saw glimpses of the slopes.

I-5 Trail from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

The I-5 Trail in Olympia runs parallel to the Olympia-Woodland Trail, connecting downtown with St. Martin’s College in Lacey. For us, it connects the two halves of the Chehalis-Western Trail, so we use it when headed north to Woodard Bay. On this ride, we also continued east on the Oly-Woodland trail to Woodland Park. However, the trail through Lacey becomes more of a pedestrian sidewalk around the many traffic circles, so was not as rewarding as most trails.

Bike to Ronan from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

A business and family trip to Montana in early July gave us the opportunity to ride some trails we had missed or didn’t exist when we lived in Montana. The above is the US93 trail into Ronan, through Pablo, starting from our cabin halfway between Polson and Pablo, with a return on the old US 93, now a quiet country road serving a few ranches and the Ronan airport.

Polson Bike Trail from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

Again, starting from our cabin in the Mission Mountains, we rode the rail-trail to downtown Polson and back.

bitterroot from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

Back in the Bitterroot Valley to work, we rode the US 93 bike trail in two sessions, a short ride south from Victor to Woodside Crossing and return, and a long ride the next day from the Florence Bridge to Victor and back, both segments of the trail completed since our move.

Whats ItTahuya from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

Back home, we decided we needed to train on roads with more rolling hills than the gentle grades the rail trails provide, so we chose the North Shore of Hood Canal, which, though well-traveled by residents and workmen, was relatively low traffic and, for a beach ride, had a lot of climbing.

ZigZag from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

Our old favorite, the Chehalis-Western Trail. This segment is an area where the old rail bed joins a still-active railway, so the trail angles around nearby properties and follows the more rolling terrain beside the tracks.

Running the Gap from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

The problem with the Chehalis-Western Trail is that it is in three segments, separated by Pacific Avenue and the Burlington-Northern rail line. This short film demonstrates the transition onto Rainier Avenue to run under the active rail line. The trail also then follows beside the rail line on a dirt track for 200 meters before resuming the northerly paved rail-trail to the junction with the Olympia-Woodland trail.

Deschutes from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

Earlier in the season, the C-W Trail was broken in another spot, where it had been washed out along a bend in the Deschutes River. This section was repaved in July, so we celebrate with a full-speed pass through an area we had dismounted and pushed over loose gravel on previous runs.

Tahuya Redux from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

We again repeated the North Shore run, with some additional variations through beach communities on the return trip. This clip also shows our start-end point at beautiful Belfair State Park.

Millersylvania Fast Track from Larye Parkins on Vimeo.

Our final training goal before kicking off our fall tour was to take a “Bike Overnight” trip with full camping gear to make sure everthing was working and ready. Because of burning restrictions, we couldn’t test our makeshift soda-can alcohol stove that we plan to construct “on the road” as a necessary accommodation to Homeland Security and airline rules, but everything else worked: but, we did discover a bad bearing in the trailer, and are trying to locate a replacement before leaving.

We plan to ride at least a few short rides before departing, just to keep in shape: we rode a short, 15Km loop around the Olympia Airport before a Sunday meeting in Tumwater. We will also need to pack our Bike Friday “Q” in its travel cases/trailer a few days before departure to even out the weight distribution to the 22.7Kg limit that makes the difference between $60 baggage fee and $300 baggage fee. We may even break out the Santana for final rides a day or two before departure.